Monday, May 21, 2018

Just Like That

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Looking back on life and situations, I can't help but wonder if life was lived well. When I was a woman in my twenties, I'm not sure if you could say I was living the dream.

I was twenty-one when marriage and motherhood was staring me in the face. It certainly wasn't ideal in how everything played out but, at that age, do we really know what we're doing?

Now that I am older, here's hoping for wisdom and caution when facing every situation, especially the difficult ones. Unfortunately, there are some things you don't get to pick and choose in which direction to go.

Sometimes, life deals you a hand that you can't give back and, just like that, you have to navigate something you would give anything to get rid of. Like an illness or heart wrenching marriage.

Life can be a cruel and heartless thing with an indiscriminate attitude. No single person is exempt from bad things that can happen. So where does that leave us? How do we make sense of the senseless?

Recently, I was party to news that a dear friend might have less time to live than originally thought. My heart sank even though I was prepared for the inevitable. Suddenly, all I could think of is if they knew or believed they had lived life fully.

The reality of it all is that life can be very short and knowing that, we have the ability to live right now, to the extreme and fullest. I am reminded of what the Bible says about the precious nature of life.

There is a book in the Bible written by Jesus' brother, James. In James 4:14 it says, "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." A humbling statement.

While you could panic over what James has said, I believe it's to be understood in the context of making the most of each day of your life. That as short as life can be, it's even more crucial that we live a life we can one day look back on and know it was well lived.

Encouragement for the week:

If you were to look back on the past five or ten years of your life, right now, could you say it has been a life well lived?

If you are a Christian reading this, you were created by God to serve and to add to His kingdom while on earth. Are you making the most of the life God has given you?

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He desires to know you intimately and that you live a full and enjoyable life with Him.


Monday, May 14, 2018

Tugging At Heartstrings

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Our hearts can be pulled in multiple directions at any given time. We bring soup to someone who is physically ill or sit at the side of a dear friend whose heart has been broken. There are so many things that can move us and tug at our heartstrings.

For me, it doesn't take something big to move me to compassion, or feel empathy for an individual facing something life-changing. However, there are times my heart can be tugged by selfish things. When the longing for my own agenda and preferences to how things should happen, are more important. That is a harsh truth but truth, nonetheless.

Yet, in comparing my life before and after God, there really is no comparison. I was a mess without Him. I was navigating life with a broken compass. I thought I knew what the best in life looked like, when in reality, I didn't. My heart was tugged by the material or physical things that, inevitably, left me unsatisfied.

Now, with God, I still think I know what I want but, honestly, God knows better and my heart is tugged for the same things as His. It's just easier to make decisions in my life because of God. Weird but factual. When fighting with myself about wanting what I want, I am reminded of something Jesus, the Son of God, said in the Bible.

He knew it wasn't all about what He wanted, although, He did have a heart tugging moment when He was facing death on the Cross. Yet, instead of insisting on His own way, He spoke words that are in a book of the Bible called Luke. Luke was a follower of Jesus and saw the things that Jesus had to face.

Luke recorded Jesus' humility and willingness to put Himself aside for the best - God's best. In Luke 22:42 Jesus spoke, "Not my will, but yours be done". Meaning, Jesus already knew that the best was yet to come by choosing something other than what He wanted. I want the same.

When I'm stuck in a heart tugging moment about something I think I should have now, let me be reminded of the above, because there is really nothing better than what God has planned. Instead of stopping short of greater things, let my heart be tugged by what God wants for me - the best.

Encouragement for the week:

What tugs at your heartstrings? Is it a longing to do what's best for now?

Would you be willing to wait if you knew the best was yet to come?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that God always has the best plan in place for you and that His will is far better and more satisfying than anything in this world that might try to get your attention. Keep moving toward God's heart and what it holds for you.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him and all the best He has for you. He will help you make the best choices at the right time that will bring satisfaction to your life.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Bobbing For Apples

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Have you ever gone to a Halloween party that had a bucket of bobbing apples? You didn't win a prize until you secured one in your mouth. Your face would get wet and water would, inevitably, splash into your eyes, temporarily blinding you. The experience could be a test study in futility and frustration.

Life can be a bit like bobbing for apples. You see all kinds of opportunities right in front of you and, at first, it seems like you can't lose. That you are about to secure the best decision. Lately, I feel like I have been the person who just stands at the tub of apples, paralyzed by fear of choosing the wrong apple. They all look good but one might be better than the other. How would I know?

Every morning, whether sitting in the dark or watching a fire in the wood stove, I pray. Sometimes desperately. Recently, it's been for wisdom to make the right decisions about life, work, and my passions. What is the right and wise decision to make when, no matter what you decide, there will be a varying length of dominoes in any given direction, affecting my situation and, possibly, others? Then, I think about people I know and the kinds of decisions they have made.

My friend who is a single father to four young boys. My girlfriend and her husband who are navigating their way through his cancer journey. Or my other friend, a lady I admire, who's carving out a new career path for herself. Along the way, they all had to make life altering decisions that may or may not affect others. Decisions that could not have been easy and even, scary. Yet, they made the decisions that had to be made.

Some decisions are easier to make than others, that's for sure. Choosing what clothes to wear each day, no brainer. Choosing whether or not to quit your job to pursue your passion, not so much. For me, going to God for the answers and wisdom I need is comforting. I don't think I have ever found a life situation that hasn't been addressed in Scripture. From finances to friendships, I have always been helped.

Yet, the situation I face now, while having the freedom to choose, has never been more nerve wracking. You'd think it would be easier, wouldn't you? So, why isn't it? There is a great promise in the Bible within a book called Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a prophet and a man chosen by God to do some important work but Jeremiah questioned himself and his abilities.

God knew that about Jeremiah and many others, myself included, and issued this promise, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you..." (Jeremiah 29:13-14). I may question my decision making abilities at times but if I hang in there and keep asking for help to make those important decisions, the answers will come...soon, I hope.

Encouragement for the week:

What factors influence your decisions? Do they complicate or simplify those decisions?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that when you seek God for wisdom and help, He promises to give both. Make sure you have the time and a quiet mind to hear God clearly when it comes to making important decisions.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is standing ready to help you with your problems and give you the tools needed to make the big decisions that you might be struggling with right now. You can trust Him to help you.




Monday, April 30, 2018

Rainbows And Lollipops

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Life isn't always rainbows and lollipops. Thanks, Captain Obvious. Okay, so it may not be, unless you are, literally, looking at a rainbow while rolling a lollipop around in your mouth. Otherwise, it's a saying that can hold a dim meaning for many, especially when it feels like you're being kicked while life has you down.

Like when you are trying to navigate your way through a relationship which, at times, can be comparable to walking through a minefield. The closer the relationship, the more complicated it can be. Some people think they are unlucky in love because they seem to find or attract the wrong kind of person. I used to feel that way a lot when I was younger but that was due to my lack of life experience and poor choices.

However, even though I am older and, hopefully, wiser it doesn't mean that my relationships today aren't less difficult. It's that there are better choices I can make when it comes to being in a relationship with depth, longevity, and less complications. Now, it's more about seeing the compatibility between myself and my mate and embracing the differences between us.

The differences can bring conflict, don't get me wrong. However, being with someone who is in the same stage of life as myself means the differences can be talked out at length, bringing a mutual understanding and acceptance of those differences. Which is far better than if we had met during our younger years.

I know exactly what I want out of life now too, which makes a sizable difference in how I view my life to come and whether or not having someone by my side would be beneficial. Of course, there is always the possibility that as times change, I'll change as well as my significant other, and the changes will completely alter the course of our relationship.

Much of life's understanding, as well as my own self-realization, has come as a result of finding my faith within a close relationship with God. It has been in knowing God that I have been able to understand my relationship better and strive to become the right person that God wants me to be. It doesn't make me perfect by any means, but each day I move a little bit closer to being the woman God created me to be and that brings me a lot of joy.

I want to be able to admit when I am wrong and apologize for it. To forgive quickly and sincerely when I have been hurt, unintentionally. To talk things out, trying to understand the varying perspectives and opinions of the man in my life. Overall, a healthy dose of patience and grace go a long way in making the most of what can be a challenging pairing.

So, even though you may think you are completely unlucky in love, let me tell you that luck has nothing to do with it. There are far too many factors involved in each relationship to single out one thing here or there as the root cause of the 'bad luck'. I think it's a maturing within ourselves and the ones we are choosing to date, that can bring some simplicity and understanding to any relationship.

I used to think that I started trying to know all there was to know about someone else in a relationship, including myself, at too young of an age. I still agree with that statement. Being older and having simplified my life has enabled me to go with the flow more easily, relaxing in the length of a relationship more, than years ago.

So, even though you still think that your luck has run out on finding that special someone...don't be so hard on yourself. Be patient, knowing that you are still growing and maturing as a person and, no, that won't happen overnight. Yet, with age and experience, you will quickly come to know what does and doesn't work for you when having a relationship with the opposite sex. Waiting until you know exactly what you want out of life and a partner can save you a lot of heartache.

I certainly wish that I could have waited until I was older to, wisely, try out relationships, but it didn't happen that way. I would have saved myself years of abuse, frustration, hurt, and self-deprecation if I had. However, what I have experienced helped me to see what really matters in this current stage of my life - God and loving people.

Encouragement for the week:

You're not alone when it comes to being unable to find the right person. All the dating sites on social media these days attest to that. Yet, taking your time to figure out who you are and what you want out of life, can be more beneficial than scrolling through profiles late at night.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that God is jealous for you and desires all of your attention. He is the lover of your soul and knows exactly who you need in your life. Trust Him to bring the right person along at the right time, while you are becoming the right person.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He cares for you and where your life is headed. He wants the very best for you in every area of your life, including who you date and, eventually, marry. You can trust Jesus to help you make the right decisions when it comes to relationships.




Monday, April 23, 2018

Welcome To FAN...tasy Island!

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**


I have heard sayings like, "No man is an island....Every man is an island", but does that also apply to women? It's not so much that I am or am not an island, but rather would like to BE on an island...by myself...with none of the stress or annoyances that can often be found in everyday life. Yet, why is it when we have some time away, the vacation days go by so fast?

Work days certainly don't do that, not in my experience, anyway. Perhaps, that's because I have often found myself in situations where I disliked my job but that goes back to the basic principle of choice. You have a choice to find a really good job, maybe something different, that will challenge you in a different field or skill set.

Or you can go with your default 'setting' and choose a job that feels like you are being typecast into a role you don't necessarily want but the money's good. Kind of like Jennifer Aniston being the main character in a lot of romantic comedies. You end up going back to what you're good at instead of being radical and doing something that challenges you and makes you breathe air, deeply, into your lungs.

I want radical....I like radical. Not just because I get antsy in the same kind of job but because I'm getting older each day and the things I would really like to do keep passing me by unless I take the bull by the horns. Hence, my attraction to being on an island by myself. I want to try it. Maybe after I do it, the intrinsic and curious nature might rub off but I would still welcome the opportunity to try.

While doing crazy things like vacationing on an island sans other people might be a fantasy, there are a lot of things in my head that are not only plausible but doable, so why not do them? Yes, money might be a factor, but there are a lot of things that don't cost an arm and a leg to do. It just takes courage and a strong intestinal tract to do them...some of them.

In any case, I don't want to be known as a person who never tried something different because she never wanted to leave the house once she got home from work. As ridiculous as that sounds, it has happened at times, when I have had enough of the daily grind, noise, demands, and just want to hide and be left alone.

When we are overwhelmed, there is a hermit deep inside of us that screams and wants to hide from the world and our lives. Why not go on an African safari instead? After all, we are only limited by our imagination, aren't we? I've gone places in my life that I never thought I would go. I am hoping to continue that trend as long as I possibly can. I hope you are too. The only limitation standing in your way may very well be you. So, welcome yourself to fantasy island!

Encouragement for the week:

Why not do something radical? No, I'm not talking about something illegal, immoral, or unethical. More like something you are afraid to do or always wanted to do.

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that nothing is impossible with God if we believe. Step out and tell God your deepest and wildest dreams. You just never know where He will take you.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is ready and wanting to take you on the kinds of adventures you have only dreamed of.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Cross Over

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't publish a post last Monday. I escaped to a private retreat in the Rocky Mountains for a week. I had been feeling disconnected from myself and God for quite a while. The photo I took, above, was part of my escape and became a metaphor for my life.

It was a week of refreshment, introspection, and reviewing the 'clauses' of my life 'contract'. I needed to know if anything significant had changed in terms of what I desire for my life. Having a lot of time by myself confirmed that all of the deepest desires remained solid.

The things I wanted were still the case and meditating on those things brought a renewed fire and excitement to my heart. Yet, there was something seriously lacking - the cross over.

Why do I feel like the things I want to pursue can't truly be pursued? Perhaps, it's been through my own sabotage that prevents me from reaching the other side of the bridge. Telling myself just a bit longer, save a bit more money, hold on to the security.

The excuses, fears, and lack of resources (whether true or imagined), usually got me to half or three quarters of the way across. Then doubts of 'making it' would hound me, being convinced that it was not possible to truly pursue the things I wanted to pursue.

How many times do we self-sabotage when it comes to going after what burns in our gut, brings life to our spirits, and lights our eyes on fire? Too many times we talk ourselves out of something because it might be too hard. Isn't that what makes it worthwhile?

Shouldn't we throw caution to the wind, especially as believers, in trusting God completely for what we have already come to believe He desires we go after? Otherwise, why would the hunger and drive exist?

When I looked at the beginning of that bridge, it shocked me to see how much it represented my life. How many times I stopped going after something for one excuse or another. How I would be so close to achieving something big, only to turn back because the way ahead was hidden and unknown.

That's just too scary, isn't it? Yet, I can't help but hear the words from a book in the Bible called 2 Timothy. Timothy was a young believer, afraid to be open about the very desire that burned in him to pursue. His mentor/teacher Paul, would build up and encourage Timothy in the tough times.

One such time is found in this small book named for the young Jesus follower in chapter 1, verse 7 which says, "For God did not give you a spirit of timidity; but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." This instruction hits me between the eyes every time I read it.

I'm not meant to cower from my desires or that which gives a strong compulsion to go after. I am meant to cross over to the other side of that daunting, old, intimidating life bridge. So are you.

Encouragement for the week:

What stops you from going after your desires? It's time to stare down and get rid of the excuses stopping you.

If you are a Christian reading this, you were not given fear when you became a believer. All the power Jesus had, was given to you when you made the decision in your heart to live for Him. Cross over the bridge.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. The fears and doubts in your life will be small compared to the power of Jesus as part of a relationship with Him.






Monday, April 2, 2018

Me, Me, Meeeeee!

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**


When I first became a Christian, it was no longer about me. I wanted to live, fully, for the one who had just changed my life in ways I never thought possible. The tremendous joy, peace, and unconditional love had me wanting more while doing away, completely, of myself. There wasn't much good that was worth keeping.

However, as time went on and the newness of my salvation wore off, it seems there was still a lot of the old 'me' left over and it wanted to shine, once again. I started living more and more for myself. Wanting what I wanted and doing whatever I wanted to do, whenever. That's usually a recipe for disaster and it was. The level of my selfishness appeared to be no better now than before my life changed.

I've been a Christian, now, for almost eleven years and I have had my ups and downs. That's typically how it goes when you are still dealing with the person you used to be while, genuinely, welcoming Jesus into your life and heart to do an 'extreme makeover' as it were. No matter what, you are always battling against the old you. I guess there is no real preparation for the battle. It is something that has to be worked out over time.

It feels like there is more battle than ease. Trying not to do things that I really don't want to do can be a challenge. Especially, when I enter into a mindset of just wanting to be and not face the real world with all its obstacles and hardships. Makes me sound a bit like a wuss or a child. I can be and have been, both.

However, being the old 'me' does cause certain behaviors that I really dislike. Sometimes, words can be said and actions done to portray what is in my heart and mind, without much of a filter before releasing them. I can say an unkind word or be critical of someone without truly wanting it to come out that way, but realizing that the person already perceived and received it as negative. I, recently, had a realization that I was being critical with a person I shouldn't have. I felt bad and made amends to them.

It's a challenge not to be hard on myself while trying to keep in mind that I am a work in progress and that things will get better as I come closer to God each day. As diligent as I try, compromise of character and behaviors slip in without hitting my internal radar. It's disheartening, especially if I have hurt others without intending to do so.

One of the good things about being in a relationship with God is that I don't have to try and fix the compromises on my own because I know I can't. Only God can make the changes that will last. So, it's up to me to recognize that I have compromised something I shouldn't have and, with the help of the Holy Spirit (an internal compass for good), take it all to God in prayer. Asking Him to change everything in me that doesn't belong and helping me to see things through, while the change takes place, makes all the difference. Change isn't always instantaneous and it takes work to go against the natural want to do my own thing and have my way.

Yet, when I keep praying and things start to change in me or my circumstances, it's like my whole self is breathing a sigh of relief at what was really needed. It's almost like climbing a rugged and steep mountain then reaching the top to find that the other side is so much better than where I started. It's hard work to change but the work is worth it when it's done, and living an uncompromising life helps me sleep at night.

Encouragement for the week:

Is there something in your life you keep making allowances for? Does it bother you to the point that you lose precious sleep at night?

If you are a Christian reading this, you know that we are meant to be Christ-like and change won't always happen overnight. Persevere in praying to God for change to happen in you, and the freedom you find in becoming more like Jesus, will be like breathing the freshest air.

If you are not a Christian reading this, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He wants to help you make healthy changes in you and your life.